Thursday, June 08, 2006

Authentic Digression

I got into a funk mood -- I mean strongly, addicitively pro-funk -- about a year ago and it hasn't gone away. It's kind of odd, I was never a huge funk guy before. In particular I've gotten really interested in contemporary bands who are doing funk-ish stuff that has a slight twist to it. I'm thinking of Quantic Soul Orchestra, and maybe Breakestra. Anyway, so the other day I was listening to Sounds Eclectic and I perked up when I heard this one track called "Step It Up." It's by a group called the Bamboos, and features guest vocals by Alice Russell. I recognized her name from other recordings she's done with Quantic and Quantic Soul Orchestra. Something about her singing struck me as being really, for lack of a better word, authentic. And I decided I finally needed to figure who this person is.

I'm not sure how to say exactly what I was expecting without coming across like an idiot, so let me just offer hints by giving some quotes from others about Russell. "All Aretha-esque soul-sass and stunning vox," one magazine has written. She sings, a noted DJ has said, "as if she was a gospel singer from the 70's." Another observer has praised her "gospel conviction through tear-stained soul, jazzy smoulders and blaxploitation struts."

All of that accurately reflects the picture that had formed in my head of Alice Russell.

The picture looked nothing at all like this:

But of course that's her. She's English. And if you go to her web site, the greeting is: "Welcome to my lovely new site, thanks a munka munka million for coming to visit!"

A munka munka million?

Anyway, none of which should make any difference, of course: I either like her singing or I don't. And I do, I still do, although if I'm really honest, it's possible I don't like it as munka munka much as I did before, when I had a very different image of her in my head. My suspicion is that the-image-in-the-head affects listening pleasure a lot more than it rationally should. Or maybe this reflects some stupid form of authentic snobbery that it is unique to me. But I can't deny it -- not if I want to, you know, keep it real.

Quantic Soul Orchestra & Alice Russell - Pushin' On - Hands of My Love
"Hands of My Love," by Quantic Soul Orchestra and Alice Russell

The Bamboos featuring Alice Russell - Step It Up - Transcend Me
"Transcend Me," by The Bamboos, featuring Alice Russell